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Spectacular specimen: This bug's a big one - 8 feet long - and New Mexico scientists nabbed...
Albuquerque Tribune ^ | April 14, 2005 | Sue Vorenberg

Posted on 04/22/2005 12:50:39 PM PDT by demlosers

Spectacular specimen: This bug's a big one - 8 feet long - and New Mexico scientists nabbed some of its fossils

Think mosquitoes and millipedes are nasty?

Then don't look too deeply into New Mexico's past.

Today, you can squish the tiny bugs, but 300 million years ago, 8-foot-long millipedes were in control of the landscape, and humans weren't even a gleam in evolution's eye.

New Mexico is now a world record holder of such "exquisitely grotesque creatures," as one worker at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science calls them. Evidence of the largest arthropleura - its technical name - ever found was recovered by the museum on Friday.

"In today's world, you couldn't have a bug this big," said Spencer Lucas, paleontology curator at the museum. "This is basically the Tyrannosaurus of the Pennsylvanian period, millions of years before dinosaurs evolved. If you took a time machine back, you'd definitely want to check your sleeping bag for these suckers before getting in."

The Pennsylvanian time period lasted from 325 to 280 million years ago.

The museum has not found the bug itself. What it did find in a remote canyon near Española were the fossilized tracks of such a creature - which looks like a 3-by-8 speed bump with flat wings holding hundreds of nasty, ribbed, horseshoe-shaped feet.

"This is a very spectacular thing," said Adrian Hunt, director of the museum, who went out in the field with the team to recover it. "Think of it as a much bigger cross between a millipede and a centipede. It probably lived in swampy forest debris. Something like this has never been found before in the Western United States."

Evidence of the creatures has also been found in Nova Scotia and Scotland, but Jorg Schneider, an international expert on them and a paleontologist from the Freiberg Mining Academy in Germany, said New Mexico's find is evidence of the biggest arthropleura ever.

The second-largest creature was probably a few inches smaller than the one found in New Mexico. The New Mexico track is 39.3 centimeters wide, compared with the second-largest track, in Scotland, which is 36 centimeters wide, Schneider said.

Schnieder came to New Mexico for a two-week visit to look at the track and other New Mexico rocks from the same time period, he said.

"One question we have is, could such a large beast live on plant material only?" Schneider said. "In millipedes from the modern era, we know that scolopender (a type of millipede) is a predator. Possibly these big extinct versions also ate other animals. This was the top of the food chain - with no natural enemy - for about 40 to 50 million years during the Pennsylvanian."

The creatures might have been vegetarians, but their large size suggests they might have eaten early reptiles that later evolved into dinosaurs and mammals, Schneider said.

One favorite snack could have been the pelycosaur, a relative of the dimetrodon, a small, sail-backed lizard common in that age, Lucas said.

"We're still really not sure what they ate," Lucas said. "This guy was probably out patrolling the forest floor eating smaller bugs - which were still pretty big by today's standards - and maybe eating small vertebrates. New Mexico was near the equator then, and the land was much warmer and wetter."

Arthropleura died out at the end of the Pennsylvanian, probably because the amount of oxygen in the air was reduced from 30 percent during that time period to closer to the 21 percent we have today, Lucas said.

"They just couldn't survive at that size in modern air," Lucas said. "Their lungs weren't as evolved as ours. For an insect to get that big, you'd need to have a lot more oxygen in the air. These guys were an evolutionary dead end."

Millipedes and centipedes aren't directly related to arthropleura, he added, but might be from a related branch of the now-extinct creature's family tree, Lucas added.

"Breathing, food, locomotion are all problematic for a bug that big," Lucas said. "When the world changed, they just couldn't adapt."


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: New Mexico
KEYWORDS: archaeology; bugs; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; museum; paleontology
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GEOLOGIC TIME

Pennsylvanian Period: 325 to 280 million years ago, a time of giant bugs. First reptiles appear. The land is covered with ferns and coal swamps.

Permian Period: 280 to 248 million years ago. Amphibians and reptiles dominate the landscape. Pangea supercontinent forms.

Triassic Period: 248 to 208 million years ago. The first dinosaurs and mammals appear.

Jurassic Period: 208 to 146 million years ago. Giant dinosaurs dominate the landscape.

Cretaceous Period: 146 to 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs continue to dominate. The first feathered dinosaurs appear. Dinosaurs go extinct at the end of the period.


Andy Heckert of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science stands next to a model of an arthropleura - a 300-million-year-old insect that could be distantly related to today's tiny millipede.

1 posted on 04/22/2005 12:50:41 PM PDT by demlosers
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To: demlosers
=8-0

Glad it's extinct. There ain't enough Die-Bug-Die on the entire planet for that puppy...

2 posted on 04/22/2005 12:53:32 PM PDT by mewzilla
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To: demlosers

Land of the Lost ping


3 posted on 04/22/2005 12:53:59 PM PDT by Rakkasan1 (The MRS wanted to go to an expensive place to eat so I took her to the gas station.)
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To: demlosers

EEEEW! Gross, disgusting, nightmares!!!


4 posted on 04/22/2005 12:54:37 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Pope Benedict XVI: The Rat-Zinger!)
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To: demlosers

Looks like it would taste like a giant LOBSTER..........


5 posted on 04/22/2005 12:54:47 PM PDT by Red Badger (Entrepreneurs find a need and fill it. Politicians create need and fill it........)
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To: demlosers

Sid Blumental meets Kafka...

6 posted on 04/22/2005 12:54:56 PM PDT by dirtboy (Drooling moron since 1998...)
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To: demlosers

Good grief! My wife can't even stand the small three inch version... I'm glad this thing is extinct, or she would never go down in our basement for the laundry. LOL


7 posted on 04/22/2005 12:55:10 PM PDT by Virginia Ridgerunner ("Si vis pacem para bellum")
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To: demlosers
Today, you can squish the tiny bugs, but 300 million years ago, 8-foot-long millipedes were in control of the landscape, and humans weren't even a gleam in evolution's eye.


8 posted on 04/22/2005 12:55:16 PM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: demlosers

Looks like the creature from Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn.


9 posted on 04/22/2005 12:55:37 PM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

May I suggest an upstairs laundry room? You just get an emergency-drainage thingie to put under the washer!


10 posted on 04/22/2005 12:56:08 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Pope Benedict XVI: The Rat-Zinger!)
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To: demlosers

If that bug's 8 feet long, the scientist holding him should be an NBA center.


11 posted on 04/22/2005 12:56:18 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dirtboy
It looks like that guy is going kootchy kootchy koo...
12 posted on 04/22/2005 12:56:30 PM PDT by mewzilla
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To: Constitution Day; martin_fierro

They're perfect for making those 6' long party subs.


13 posted on 04/22/2005 12:56:42 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (Holding out for a Slim-centric Universe.)
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To: newgeezer

Quibbles! It's a hugh, disgusting bug, however you date it!


14 posted on 04/22/2005 12:56:59 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Pope Benedict XVI: The Rat-Zinger!)
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To: PatrickHenry


15 posted on 04/22/2005 12:58:05 PM PDT by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: demlosers

Can I get fries with that?


16 posted on 04/22/2005 12:58:49 PM PDT by MississippyMuddy (No peace, without FREEDOM!!)
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To: demlosers
Ridiculous. Everyone knows the universe is only 6,000 years old.

And how exactly did Noah get that thing on the Ark?

17 posted on 04/22/2005 12:59:04 PM PDT by gdani
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To: demlosers
"Breathing, food, locomotion are all problematic for a bug that big," Lucas said. "When the world changed, they just couldn't adapt."

Undoubtedly it was all .... BUSH's FAULT!

:-)

18 posted on 04/22/2005 12:59:40 PM PDT by Condor51 (Leftists are moral and intellectual parasites - Standing Wolf)
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To: gdani
And how exactly did Noah get that thing on the Ark?

And how did he tell the boys from the girls?

19 posted on 04/22/2005 1:00:28 PM PDT by mewzilla
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To: demlosers
Here's an artist's rendering of what one might have looked like, ambling through the ferns. Remember...it's at least 6' long"


20 posted on 04/22/2005 1:00:56 PM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: Tijeras_Slim; SunkenCiv; NormsRevenge; MeekOneGOP

I suppose that roasted, they would taste like chicken....


21 posted on 04/22/2005 1:01:02 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (This tagline no longer operative....floated away in the flood of 2005 ,)
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To: demlosers

Looks like something from a Roger Corman movie.


22 posted on 04/22/2005 1:01:04 PM PDT by Dr. Thorne
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To: longshadow; VadeRetro; balrog666; general_re; RadioAstronomer; js1138; whattajoke; Shryke; ...
Yuk fossils Ping List!

23 posted on 04/22/2005 1:01:22 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (<-- Click on my name. The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: Tax-chick

"Quibbles! It's a hugh, disgusting bug, however you date it!"

Ick! I never date bugs.


24 posted on 04/22/2005 1:01:41 PM PDT by MineralMan (godless atheist)
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To: dead
"If that bug's 8 feet long, the scientist holding him should be an NBA center."

BINGO!

25 posted on 04/22/2005 1:03:40 PM PDT by G.Mason ( Because Free Republic obviously needed another opinionated big mouth)
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To: demlosers

My BS meter is off the charts.


26 posted on 04/22/2005 1:04:22 PM PDT by 14erClimb
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To: MineralMan

Those aren't ferns, they're GIANT Redwood trees! (That thing is HUGH!)


27 posted on 04/22/2005 1:04:22 PM PDT by Lou L
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To: demlosers

As my father used to say, "Don't bug me."


28 posted on 04/22/2005 1:05:19 PM PDT by Cobra64
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To: Tax-chick

Quibbles! It's a hugh, disgusting bug, however you date it!

Personally I'd never ask it out but you may be different...

Anyway, my question is WHY did the atmosphere change at that time??


29 posted on 04/22/2005 1:05:24 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: dirtboy

Just your typical democrat.


30 posted on 04/22/2005 1:06:25 PM PDT by Cobra64
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To: Tijeras_Slim; martin_fierro
They're perfect for making those 6' long party subs.

Mmmm. That would make me lose as much weight as Jared:

(Bugway: Eat Fresh)

31 posted on 04/22/2005 1:06:37 PM PDT by Constitution Day (WTFIIWNM? I mean, seriously.)
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To: MineralMan
I never date bugs.

Can you be sure about that? Remember "Men in Black"?

32 posted on 04/22/2005 1:07:03 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Pope Benedict XVI: The Rat-Zinger!)
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To: demlosers

So let’s suppose for a second that ol’ Charlie Darwin was correct in his hypothesis. Does that mean this was the first known democrat?


33 posted on 04/22/2005 1:07:42 PM PDT by schaketo (The revolution will not be televised, it will be web cast!)
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To: demlosers

This is definately a two-can of RAID bug.

34 posted on 04/22/2005 1:07:47 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (Nations do not survive by setting examples for others. Nations survive by making examples of others)
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To: tet68
WHY did the atmosphere change at that time

SUV's, of course.

35 posted on 04/22/2005 1:08:52 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Pope Benedict XVI: The Rat-Zinger!)
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To: Dr. Thorne

36 posted on 04/22/2005 1:09:56 PM PDT by demlosers (Rumsfeld: "We don't have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy.'')
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To: tet68
Anyway, my question is WHY did the atmosphere change at that time??

It rained. That, in turn, brought about The Flood.

37 posted on 04/22/2005 1:11:03 PM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: demlosers
Ick.

IckIckIckIck.

Ick.

38 posted on 04/22/2005 1:12:07 PM PDT by TheBigB (Proudly annoying stupid people since 1970!)
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To: dirtboy

wonder if it would have tasted good with butter? :P


39 posted on 04/22/2005 1:13:01 PM PDT by Constantine XIII
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To: demlosers

Snowboard prototype?


40 posted on 04/22/2005 1:13:04 PM PDT by MrBambaLaMamba (Buy 'Allah' brand urinal cakes - If you can't kill the enemy at least you can piss on their god)
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To: demlosers
"The museum has not found the bug itself. What it did find in a remote canyon near Española were the fossilized tracks of such a creature"

How do they know it was a bug?

41 posted on 04/22/2005 1:15:36 PM PDT by BROKKANIC
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To: demlosers

The bugs whacked us Johnny...


42 posted on 04/22/2005 1:18:50 PM PDT by Betis70 (It's all fun and games till someone gets impaled with a Javelin)
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To: demlosers
That bug probably resembles Bill and Hellarys first and final attempt at siring an alleged child. They killed it too, of course.
43 posted on 04/22/2005 1:19:30 PM PDT by Pagey (Hillary talking about Religion is as hypocritical as Bill carrying a bible out of church for 8 years)
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To: demlosers

Microsoft programmer displays biggest bug found so far in Internet Explorer.

44 posted on 04/22/2005 1:20:01 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Blackwell for Governor 2006: hated by the 'Rats, feared by the RINOs.)
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To: Red Badger

A LOBSTROCITY! (For you Dark Tower fans)


45 posted on 04/22/2005 1:20:02 PM PDT by Pest (My reality check bounced!)
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To: demlosers; Tijeras_Slim; Constitution Day; xsmommy
This is basically the Tyrannosaurus of the Pennsylvanian period

Proto-Jagoff.

46 posted on 04/22/2005 1:20:10 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Chat is my milieu)
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To: 14erClimb
My BS meter is off the charts.

Why? This thing lived at a time when the world was crittered by dragonflies with 60 cm wingspans and 20 cm-long cockroaches.

47 posted on 04/22/2005 1:20:42 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
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To: dead
Too funny !
But the bug in that picture is a model.
The bug that left the tracks in a fossil specimen is estimated to be 8ft long.
48 posted on 04/22/2005 1:21:06 PM PDT by stylin19a (Always remember - don't ever forget - "2 wrongs don't make a right, it's 3 lefts that make a right.")
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To: tet68

Fewer plants. Plants during this period were growing like crazy, pumping huge amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere (hence the really big bugs). At the end of this period, the oxygen levels dropped (maybe from global cooling and drying killing off a lot of the world's vegetation).


49 posted on 04/22/2005 1:22:54 PM PDT by Junior (“Even if you are one-in-a-million, there are still 6,000 others just like you.”)
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To: Tax-chick
Quibbles! It's a hugh, disgusting bug, however you date it!

You have to be really, really lonely to date that.

50 posted on 04/22/2005 1:24:06 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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